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Europe scuttles African unity

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Friday, 15 April 2011

Europe scuttles African unity

A major contradiction of globalisation is to integrate and centralise certain regions while disintegrating and marginalising others. While the former has produced large and powerful blocks like the EU, the latter tends to produce what sociologist Manuel Castells has described as "black holes in informational capitalism: regions (where there is) no escape from suffering and deprivation". Africa is progressively acquiring that image. The rapid integration and growth of European and North American economies and the steady centralisation of political authority, particularly in Europe, stand in stark contrast to the marginalisation, impoverishment and fragmentation on the African continent. Almost all African countries still remain vertically integrated to Europe. This is being re-enforced by the signing of economic partnership agreements (EPAs) between the EU and countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) which will open up Africa's resources to European multinationals, block Africa's integration and obstruct south-south cooperation. This constitutes a major obstacle to horizontal integration between African countries and may create obstacles in Africa's relations with China. The irony is that while Europe is creating greater unity through an expanded EU, Africa - under EU pressure - is disintegrating into regional EPAs linked to the EU with the effect of weakening existing regional economic communities and eventually scuttling the dream of a politically unified Africa.

Source: businesslive.co.za